Thousands of dogs and cats have passed through the kennels of Homeward Pet Adoption Center on their way to their new homes.
Now, the Woodinville nonprofit adoption center is looking for its new home after being notified by the site’s landowner the lease could not be renewed when it expires next September.
“We really want to stay in Woodinville,” Homeward CEO Nanette McCann said.
The adoption center has operated in the area for nearly 30 years, and has been in its current location at Northeast 177th Place since 2001, McCann said. Homeward Pet’s leadership had been hoping to lease for another five years while trying to raise money to build or buy a location before the news came that they’d have to move, she said.
However, the situation might also offer new possibilities for growth.
“We love this building, but I think we’ve outgrown it a little bit,” Operations Director Jim Keller said.
In addition to housing dogs and cats until they’re adopted, the center has a spay and neuter clinic, offers behavioral training, runs a pet food bank and helps rescue unwanted or sometimes abused animals. So far this year, more than 400 animals have been adopted from the center, McCann said, and nearly 55,000 pounds of pet food has been dispersed through the food bank.
Lately, Homeward Pet’s operations look a little different due to considerations made to keep staff and visiting families safe amid the pandemic. Most animals are currently in foster care, and adoptions are done by appointment to limit the number of people in the building. The spay and neuter clinic is also open by appointment, and a free behavioral support hotline is open to the public who might be having issues with their animals while at home, McCann said.
There are approximately 50 animals in the center’s care as of July 6.
Like so many other nonprofits, fundraising has also had been affected. The center’s major event the Fur Ball Auction and Dinner had been scheduled for May 16, but it ended up being switched to a virtual event this year, McCann said.
The nonprofit brought in about half of what it usually does at the event, she said.
Despite these challenges, none of the 25 full-time or five part-time staff members have had to be laid off or furloughed, she said.
When the center gets closer to moving into a new location, McCann said, the organization will likely need to host another fundraising campaign to cover the costs of relocating and building out the new facility to meet its needs.
As Homeward Pet continues to grow, the group is looking for a location with at least 15,000 square feet. The added space would allow for more isolation space for anxious animals, a larger clinic, space to walk the dogs, and to design the kennels in a way that reduces interactions and triggers between the animals, McCann said.
Homeward Pet has grown tremendously in the 11 years Keller has been with the organization, he said. When he started, the center operated out of the back of Clearwater Spas, and limited space meant the dogs had to be walked through the cat room to go outside, he said.
“We want to keep the feel of this place,” Keller said, standing in the adoption center. He noted the conscious decision to paint the warehouse with bright colors and keep the animals very accessible to the people who visit them.
“But I think there are things we can do just to provide better for our animals,” he later added.